Many would agree that happiness is difficult to define and challenging to measure—partly due to its subjective nature. Is it possible to get a scientific handle on such a slippery concept? In happiness surveys, over 80% of people rate their overall life satisfaction as “pretty to very happy,” and comparably 80% also rate their current mood as positive (for example, positive 6–7 on a 10 point scale, where 5 is neutral). A lucky few may even live consistently around a point of 8—although excessively higher scores may actually impede attainment of life success, as measured by wealth, education, or political participation.
The New Study On Happiness
A new study found that in a world where happiness is in short supply, your happiness might be more in your control than you think. The survey from Tracking Happiness sought to answer the question, “Can we control our own happiness?” with 1,154 respondents providing answers to such questions as, “Is happiness something that you can control?” and “If you look back at the last year of your life, how would you rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10?” The study consisted of 665 males, 482 females, 1 gender-fluid, and 6 non-identified between ages 15 and 60-plus. Key findings include:
- 89% of the respondents believe happiness is something you can control
- Of those who answered yes, 32% are happier on average
- The average happiness rating of those who think happiness is controllable is 7.39.
- The average happiness rating of people who think happiness is out of their control is 5.61.
- Respondents with low happiness ratings are 5 times more likely to feel like happiness is out of their control compared to people with high happiness ratings.
Feeling in control of happiness correlated to actually feeling happier. But what makes people feel in control of their happiness? Is there something we can learn from our ability to control our happiness?
Kesebir P, Diener E. (2008). In Pursuit of Happiness: Empirical Answers to Philosophical Questions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 117–25.
Oishi S, et al. (2007). The Optimal Level of Well-Being: Can We Be Too Happy? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 346–60.
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